Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy 150th Birthday, Nevada!

Tomorrow is the state of Nevada's 150th Birthday. It entered into the Union on October 31, 1864 as the 36th state.

I sure never imagined I would be living in Nevada. I always had visions of it being a barren wasteland. Little did I know that it's an amazing place, with so many secret getaways and treasures.

Apparently Nevada has a state song. I never had to learn it to live in Nevada, but perhaps schoolchildren do learn it. And in case you wondered, here it is (and if you'd like to be part of a world-record attempt to have the most people singing a state song, at 10 am today, click here):

Home Means Nevada

Written & Music by Bertha Raffetto

Way out in the land of the setting sun,
Where the wind blows wild and free,
There’s a lovely spot, just the only one
That means home sweet home to me.
If you follow the old Kit Carson trail,
Until desert meets the hills,
Oh you certainly will agree with me,
It’s the place of a thousand thrills.Home means Nevada
Home means the hills,
Home means the sage and the pine.
Out by the Truckee, silvery rills,
Out where the sun always shines,
Here is the land which I love the best,
Fairer than all I can see.
Right in the heart of the golden west
Home means Nevada to me.
Whenever the sun at the close of day,
Colors all the western sky,
Oh my heart returns to the desert grey
And the mountains tow’ring high.
Where the moon beams play in shadowed glen,
With the spotted fawn and doe,
All the live long night until morning light,
Is the loveliest place I know.
Home means Nevada
Home means the hills,
Home means the sage and the pines.
Out by the Truckee’s silvery rills,
Out where the sun always shines,
There is the land that I love the best,
Fairer than all I can see.
Right in the heart of the golden west
Home means Nevada to me.
Happy Birthday, Nevada!

(We will be celebrating for a few days and will have some posts about how to celebrate a state's 150th birthday coming up soon.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oak City Cave

 A few weeks ago I took the kids to a cave I've been meaning to go to for many years: Oak City Cave. The entrance is a little crawlway. It's also known as a rattlesnake den, so I was glad that it was pretty late in the season and we didn't see any snakes.

We did see lots of pillbugs. I couldn't believe how many were in the entrance!

There were also lots of cobwebs.

And, unfortunately, lots of graffiti. I don't think some people realize how fragile cave environments are. The cave walls don't have the sun and wind like outside rocks, so it takes so very long for anything to wear away. And it often takes so long for a cave and cave formations to form in the first place.

Not far from the entrance was a six-foot drop I was expecting. It was something too hard for the kids to negotiate by themselves, so I made them hasty harnesses out of webbing and gave them a belay. Desert Girl was not at all sure about going down the big hole, but did fine.

At the bottom we were rewarded with some cave pretties.

The cave was larger than I expected. We didn't even have time to see it all before we were due out. Passages went in several directions, and even though they weren't long, we wanted to explore them thoroughly. I was very glad to have my kneepads.

We found another small pit, but it was easier to negotiate. I was starting to get quite warm by this point. I didn't have a thermometer, but guessed that the cave temperature was in the mid to upper 50s.

The kids found a cave cricket. They are becoming well-trained cave biologists!

When we came out of the cave, our nearby surface contact greeted us with bottles of water. That sure was welcome! Then it was time to call another surface contact. It's always good to let people know where you're going! It was a fun cave. I just wish that people who went into it treated it a little better.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Playing in the Leaves

 A few days ago I was watching a group of kids. After playing on various wheeled toys for awhile, I suggested they should make some leaf piles, as the leaves were rapidly falling off the trees in the breeze. They happily agreed. Once they had some piles, it was time to jump in them.

 Then apparently it was time to throw them on Aidan's head.

He seemed to be enjoying it.

I liked how the colorful leaves danced through the air.

Then it was time to get buried in leaves.
We are certainly enjoying this beautiful autumn.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Astronomy Festival at Great Basin National Park

 In September Great Basin National Park held its annual Astronomy Festival. We went up Thursday evening for the talent show. It's always so much fun to see what talent people have lurking.

Desert Boy was enthralled.

Soon it was our turn. I had volunteered to play Home on the Range on the accordion as a sing-along. Fortunately the kids and a friend came up with me and helped lead the crowd. I don't play the accordion very much, so I had to practice quite a long time to make it sound decent. (Hopefully it sounded decent!). Thanks to Clint who snapped this photo of us.

When it was over, we quickly departed the outdoor stage, fortunately to applause and not to boos.

We let the more talented take over, like Bryan on guitar and Isaac on drums.

When it was time for a guitar trio, the kids couldn't resist dancing. It was really cute.

Aileen shared her sweet voice with us. It is the voice of an angel.

Carolyn's violin piece was way too short, I wanted to hear more!

It was a good crowd. Afterwards, we went down to the telescopes so the kids could earn their Junior Astronomer certificates--and most important to them, a Milky Way candy bar.  We hope as they get older we'll be able to stay longer and see even more things through the telescopes.

Great Basin National Park's last astronomy program for the season is tonight, Saturday October 25 at 6 pm. The big advantage of the early start time is that you can go to bed early too!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Our First Egg…After 12 Chickens and 7 Months

Some good news today, after yesterday's post. I was cleaning the chicken coop when I noticed a real egg! I had gotten so used to the golf ball in there that it took me a moment to realize what I was seeing. I bellowed (yep, it was more than a yell!) for the kids to come so they could see for themselves. 

Then I had them pose with the egg.

We found another one in the run, but I suspected it was from the day before when they were locked up in it all day. That egg unfortunately didn't quite make it to the refrigerator due to an itsy bitsy fall. I guess we could call it the Humpty Dumpty egg. My reply to the wail of "I dropped the egg and it's cracked" was "Make sure you clean it all up." I'm a little tired of messes lately!

I had noticed that the second hen had a more filled out comb and wattle, and I think she's the layer. I think the other one still hasn't figured out what to do. Maybe someday. It's only taken 12 chickens and 7 months to get our first egg.

The rooster is so pretty. He crows every day, whether it's morning or not.

The rest of the family didn't seem that interested in actually eating the egg, so I did. It was delicious! Now we will be looking for our egg every afternoon (she lays between 2:30 and 4:30 right now).
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